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I have a lot of feelings about May. On one hand, I loved it and wish I had known about it a lot sooner. It speaks to the little weirdo inside of me, the one that would have been terribly fascinated to see a dog’s suture burst open in the yard. On the other hand, I loved it, and there is a big difference in principle between the two. Both sentiments are governed by completely different schools of thought, the latter of which is driven by an emotion akin to an experienced reader finding pleasure in a good book. It’s deeper, less visceral, and allows me to reflect on the movie as a student of horror films.

Fascinating in its ability to turn the serial killer genre on its head, May struck me as an attempt to explore the idea of the feminine in the context of a typically male type of monster. May’s characteristics leave no question as to her femininity. Thin, pretty, and a talented seamstress, she embodies all kinds of classical female qualities, right down to her doll collection and slightly childish looking bedroom.

As evidenced by Halloween, male serial killers tend to be more visceral. When men start hacking and slashing, nobody asks questions; motives are secondary, almost as if it’s universally accepted that all men have the same innate capacity for violence and all they need is a little push, a bit of bad luck, mommy issues…

May at first appears to be more a product of her outside rejections than some internal dysfunction. Mike Myers (and many, many other male serial killers) tend to be arguably sociopathic from the get-go. May got a whole movie about her slow descent into monsterhood but Halloween couldn’t even spare Mike Myers an hour. Even the famous Mrs. Voorhees of Friday the 13th fame owed her mad murder streak to an external motive (as opposed to a natural love for hunting kids in the forest).  So what does it say about us that it feels more “real” for a woman to grow into her monsterhood?

Generally speaking, May is actually pretty successful at being a functioning member of society: she’s good at her job, clean and physically attractive, and she is obviously capable and independent. There are no dark, dank cabins in the woods for May. In fact, as far as her social awkwardness is concerned I’ve met people who were far worse. If so, if she’s actually not all that bad as a person, doesn’t that mean that her propensity toward violence is just a natural little something that bubbles forth from people who are pushed too far? Is there just a thin, fragile line between being a functioning member of society and going full-on serial killer?

I guess it can be said that May’s main problem is in her inability to repel abjection. She allows her fascination to overcome her and it manifests in her as “weirdness”. What’s funny is that while abjection is said to exist in immorality, May herself is not necessarily a bad person, but like a perfectly good jar of mayonnaise left open in a fridge full of fish she came out seeming, tasting, and smelling a little… strange. I think the movie actually did a good job of showing its titular character’s internal dysfunction. May’s affinity for blood was a good example of this, as it didn’t seem to have direct grounding in any of her personal experiences. Her capacity for murder, or even her instinctive need to synechdochially reduce the people around her to the sum of their parts, can probably be put into context when thought of this way.

Admittedly, I expected May to become the victim either of something supernatural or otherwise. I guess I technically wasn’t wrong, since May is pretty much a victim of her circumstances. With everything else that happens in the movie, I’m actually just glad that she ends up making a friend.

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Addiction of May – May

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After watching May, my stomach felt weird as if I was going to vomit. For me, even though I closed my eyes at some scenes that show butchery skills of May, I imagined it and it was really gross.

 

At the first scenes of May, I thought that the horror was within the doll that her mother gave her but as I watch further, it was a different twist.

 

May grew up to be a weird girl with no friends. It’s just normal that horror movies present their characters that are strange. May only talks to her doll and considered it to be her best friend.  That is why the mystery of the horror film I thought of is within the doll. But it’s not. May works at the veterinary clinic and her job is to stitch the wounds of the pets brought in by owners. As you can see, May had been obsessed with beautiful body parts of different people. She liked the hands of a strange man that passes by the clinic at lunchtime and also the neck of her co-worker at the clinic. One day, he stalked the man at the restaurant and felt asleep. May smelled the hand and touched it. The man was surprised and didn’t know why May was acting like that. They become friends and May was very happy and they started seeing each other. Until one day, they decided to go out with each other. May was totally into this guy and she loves him very much because he was her first girlfriend. The man was also feeling weird with May so one day; he decided to let May watch a movie together with him. It is a film of Romance but instead of kissing, making out with each other, the character bites each other like vampires. So may thought that doing this kind of romance is good and she tried it with the man. The man was shocked so he left May. It had been weeks since they saw each other and when May was calling him, he always saying that he’s busy. The truth is that, he already dumped May and was now seeing other girl. May found it out then was very furious and depressed. The only thing that she can share her feelings with is her doll. She brought her doll at a school where blind children live. They broke the doll into pieces. May decided to make a new one but with real parts of the body. She then killed the people and get the parts separately from them and connected it. May made a human sized doll. But one thing is missing is that it has no eyes so she got her one eye and put it in the doll. May was feeling exhausted and painful due to her missing eye. She rested at the bed together with the doll and suddenly it moved.

 

The mystery behind this film is that the doll became alive even if its parts where from different people. May wanted to have a companion because in her entire life, she was alone. She just wanted a friend so she created one as what to her mom told her. The movie is just like having a friend like Pinocchio and suddenly it comes to life. This horror film is also different from the others since May is not the victim here but she was the one killing other people. There was no bias for gender like the old films had.

May

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May is a movie that at times is funny, quirky, and awkward at moments. The movie plays around with the character of May and shows that through a character like her can exist the predatory male and female gazes.

The movie explores the habits that become ritualistic in nature and how they become both awkward and a source of horror. The movie initially played out the character of May as a semi-neurotic suffering from a mild case of OCD, to a certain degree, producing in her a host of some very awkward habits and social skills. Characters like May are interesting in the horror genre because they carry an atmosphere of paranoia and unease within their gaze already, a prominent male gaze trait, almost ironic given that May is female. Regardless, the character of May presents the case of a male type of gaze learning to use the female gaze.

The movie, in the earlier, more awkward parts, explores the idea of female aggressor in a relationship. As the movie shows, the female taking on the lead and pursuing a man is rather off putting to a certain degree. In a manner of speaking, we can see that May is herself part victim and part monster as well. The point where May begins to kill off people and harvest them for their parts which she deems perfect, she is, at that point, a culmination of the male and female gazes working in tandem. Her discrimination of the “beautiful” parts of other people proves that she possesses the female receptive gaze to look and accept things but her wanting to separate these beautiful parts from the rest which is not beautiful is the male gaze denying these as part of her reality. Her being characterized by the voracious nature of her “appetite” and the power by which she empowers herself to execute her tastes is what constitutes the final monster that May becomes.

 One other thing, in relation to the awkwardness the movie conveys to the audience, is the language we use to pertain to the weird now. The weird, queer, and the horrible are now vague qualities in our language today. I say vague in that, as illustrated in the movie, the weird, at different times in the movie, is affirmed as either positive or negative qualities. This ambivalence of the language in the world is what lends the idea of blindness to the character of May, as parodied in her interactions with the blind children. This kind of blindness and general misunderstanding is likewise what qualifies into May’s own awkwardness in her moments of intimacy with the object of her affections like in not knowing what to do with her hands and not knowing where to place them. The blindness of not knowing where to place her hands is mirrored in the scene where Amy’s glass case is broken before the blind children and the children hurt themselves in the process of trying to locate Amy.

The blind children in a way represent the kind of people who are deprived of the normative sight and knowledge of society but are likewise still curious of it. To them there is a clear in present danger and us who are aware of the danger to them are often inclined to help because we are moved by our compassionate fear. It is this realization that May is inadequate and is effectively ‘blind’ as she is now that pushes her to take on the action of empowering herself with another kind of sight, a predatory sight.

One thing the movie focuses on is repetition taken as a form of a ritual. People with OCD, and to certain extent even normal people, often are compelled to repeat actions to establish a sense of security over their lives. People on the outside would often view these acts as ritualistic thinking and that there is an ascribed sense of meaning to most of these acts. The Ritual in the case of the horror film is a tool of security, a tool against the horrors, an exercise of recollection and an extremely inward looking gaze. Throughout the movie, May performs rituals and repetitions as a way of allaying her own personal anxieties from encountering her own horrors. The horror genre often in using a monster will often use a means by which to overcome the monster but, as May illustrates, at some point the monster’s own presence can overpower the method by which the monster is coped with initially. This then becomes a similar source of horror as we experience the slipping of power from us as the dynamics of power is lost.

May

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The 2002 American drama/horror picture May, a seemingly modern take on the mythological test Pygmalion and Galatea , depicts a macabre and grotesque imagery of the pitfalls of obsessive perfectionism and the impact of cruel marginalization on the psyche of a developmentally isolated individual. The film finds itself within the boundaries of realistic horror wherein the possibility of the events portrayed in the film happening in real life would be incredibly high. The psychological dilemma of the protagonist May falls within the precepts of abnormal psychology wherein the value of perfection being grounded since childhood by an authority figure transcends to adulthood and, as the film depicts it, a violent execution of finding perfection in an imperfect world. The persistent marginalization of May exacerbates her already damaged psyche pushing her further into isolation and violent psychosis. The movie in itself falls within the boundary between thriller and horror genres but the dramatic atmosphere juxtaposed against dim landscape of the setting purports the sense of a psychosis developing within the protagonist. This becomes a prominent focus of the film due to it serving as an auxiliary to the premise of the film. For the most part of the film, the audience would surmise that the frequency of the setbacks in May’s life would lead to some decline in her psychological ability to function as a normal individual, which in this case becomes the truth. It is only within the latter portion of the film that we truly see what May intends to do as caused by the frequent failed relationships that littered her life. The slicing and splicing of the multitude of her “friends” and “suitors” followed by the Frankenstein-esque monstrosity created at the end of the film would be the eidolon of her dysfunctional perfectionism. The movie ends with her own grotesque sacrifice of her one eye to her creation thus leading to her downfall but not before seeing her creation come to life in a Galatea-esque manner. It remains a question whether the “breath of life” in her creation could be considered a conception of her avid wishes or was it a de facto human being. Whatever the answer may be, the fact remains that the true horror in her film was no merely the breaking of her sanity and the slaughtering of her relations, but in the dedication and sacrifice she had given to the fruition of her idealistic inception of a “friend.”

Uncanny

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It is a very rare sight to see a woman behind the knife, the one who plots the deaths of others for her own enjoyment. Usually the main protagonists in horror movies revolve around the men. Women are commonly casted as supporting roles or victims. It was surely a fresh thing to see and from there one can tell the difference when the woman is the leading character.

                Very often, if not all the time, the male protagonists – rather antagonists – in horror films are depicted as violent, aggressive, arrogant, and manly.  Meanwhile, as seen in May, May was first seen as quiet, soft spoken, innocent, and adorable. These women ‘antagonists’ are first portrayed as angels who can do harm but when harassed they instantly change becoming into monsters. This was evident in the beginning of the movie. How May the very shy and quiet little girl turned into a decapitating nurse. The similarities between the female and male antagonists are experiences of their past. They typically follow the path of a young kid being bullied by others, experience a very restricting childhood, or possible were made fun of by their parents or family. These portions of their lives bring them to release all the hate and resentment that has been repressed for years, like a balloon being blown until it pops. May, was indeed a very interesting movie. The acting, the story line and the script of the movie is very real to life.  It is actually quite creepy because it is very possible. It could definitely happen in any given occasion. Her desire for perfect can be seen in a number of the human population. Bringing to think, would people go that far to create a perfect world? Or in May’s case a perfect friend? Even if the movie did have show any suspense filled scenes, the thought of there could be someone like May is frightening. It makes me want to hide all my “beautiful” body parts.  I guess that is what it makes to be a good horror film, the audience’s fear of the probability of the movie. How these fictional characters and stories can be seen in our daily lives.

She gets by with a little help from her friend.

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May was a film that I have wanted to see since I was in high school. My friends had been talking about it for a quite a while, at the time it was released in the cinemas here in the Philippines. They kind of kept bugging me to see it but I never did.  I kept wondering what it was that was so special about this film. While they were “fan-girling” over the film, they managed to basically just tell me most of the story’s main points. They managed to spoil the main plot twists of the film so before I even watched it in class, I knew that she was going to murder people and sew their body parts together. I also knew that in the end, the “doll” would come alive. As a movie-enthusiast, this frustrates me because I now did not have the capacity to genuinely react to these scenes. I already expected these things to happen.

 

What I didn’t expect to happen though, are the most awkward scenes I have ever witnessed in a movie. I think most of my horror for this film was not from the killing and slashing people to bits part of the movie but the part where May had to interact with people. The interactions with Adam were the worst. The film had already built up that May admired this man very much. The first time they met, I felt what people usually call “second-hand” embarrassment. If I were in that situation, I would probably be extremely traumatized by my actions. I felt so embarrassed for her I had to look away or cover my eyes. It was a different kind of horror I felt, but it was horror nonetheless. I guess, in that aspect, the movie had effectively employed the use of affect horror, eliciting emotions from the audience by “horrifying” them with these extremely awkward scenes.

“I never had a boyfriend before”. Oh God.

 

One would expect, initially, a character like May to be the victim of the monster. She’s an awkward, wiry girl who looks like a good strong gust could blow her away.  She’s also got the strange doll Suzie that she talks to, pertaining to Suzie as her best friend. I can’t help but feel that this strange girl, despite the weird quirks, was going to be the victim of the horror story. She looked like she was innocent enough. The doll’s glass case slowly cracking and breaking looked like it was caused by something supernatural. If I hadn’t known about the plot twists in the first place, I would have thought this supernatural force would victimize May.

 

This is one of the few films in class where the main character is the essential monster character, kind of like the film “Voice”. It could be argued that the Frankenstein creation that May made could also be the monster, as it surprises the audience with its supernatural coming-to-life. But the central monster character is definitely May herself. It is definitely the changes in her personality, the slow breakdown of her already fragile sanity, and the actions she made to create her “friend”, that leave the audience in amazement and fear of what human beings are capable of doing just to feel like they have a friend.

Definitely, Maybe

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May is the kind of horror movie that you think won’t get under your skin, but by the end of the film, you’ll have goosebumps that feel like they’re never going away. It stars Angela Bettis (The Toolbox Murders, Carrie Remake) as the awkward, asocial young adult who never really had any friends but her doll, Suzie, who was given to her by her mother with the quote, “If you can’t find a friend, make one.” 

Throughout the movie we are shown various aspects of May’s life, as she tries desperately to gain friends to stop being lonely. Of course, having very little social contact from her childhood has its downside of being socially inept come adulthood. I liked this idea of combining the trope of the lead character as the underdog and ultimately, becoming the monster. Normally, one would think that the monster is what makes a horror film horrifying, and that the monster usually does not inspire sympathy from the audience. This is where the genius of director Lucky McKee comes in. He decides to mix these two tropes together, and it comes out very nicely. Oftentimes, horror movies who go down this road do not really tie these two things seamlessly. Once the underdog becomes a monster, he loses all the sympathy that he has gained from the audience, because his human part becomes thoroughly drowned by his monstrousness. In May, however, the exact opposite happens. When May becomes a monster, she becomes more human. We, as the audience, are given the chance to see the two seemingly-opposing sides to the character, and I think this is why this horror film works best. May ultimately becomes a monster, but I still felt like I rooted for her. I felt her loneliness during the start of the film and finally, her happiness at finally gaining the “perfect” friend towards the end of the film.

This film reminded me of another horror movie I watched recently, Excision. Both films display a similarity in terms of how both of the lead characters are awkward women, and go through drastic steps in order to have some sense of achievement in their lives. Where they differ, however, is through their intentions. Excision’s Pauline (played by AnnaLynne McCord of the 90210 TV series that nobody seems to be watching anymore these days) does whatever she does because of her obsession with blood. May, on the other hand, just wants someone to be there for her. Ultimately, both of their motivations end up in a body count.

I think May is just a hyperbolic way of portraying the repressions brought about by society today, especially in terms of friendship and perfection. Let’s face it: nobody is a perfect friend. How many times have we thought about having that perfect friend, one who does not have any flaws at all, and one who’s always by our side whatever happens? That’s all May ever wanted. And by the end of the movie, it certainly looks like she finally got it.